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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Getting in Step with Blackjack at Rhythm City

31 March 2004

A few weeks ago I began a series of reports on the state of blackjack in the Quad Cities region. We kicked off the investigation with a look at the Isle of Capri Casino & Hotel in Bettendorf. Today let's swing over to Rhythm City in Davenport.

Both properties, it should be noted, are owned and operated by Isle of Capri, Inc. However, even though they share the same corporate leadership, they differ in branding and marketing philosophy so as to maintain individuality while doing business in close proximity within the same market.

For example, Rhythm City offers "low roller" minimums at its gaming tables, including (depending on the time and day) $2 blackjack, $3 craps and 25-cent roulette. This is very appealing to seniors and gamblers on a budget, and is somewhat reflective of the stakes offered in "locals" markets in Las Vegas.

Now let's give a rundown of the blackjack game at Rhythm City, keeping in mind that rules can vary greatly from casino to casino in gambling jurisdictions around the country. Since the game requires a degree of skill to play successfully over the long haul, the "advantage scale" that exists between the player and the house is very sensitive to rules and playing conditions.

There is a nice selection of blackjack tables at Rhythm City. The betting limits are similar to its sister property: For $5 and $10 games the limit is $200. The $25.00 game jumps to $500. At $2 tables (not available at Isle of Capri) the limit is $50.

The casino plays all six-deck games with the exception of one double-decker. At the six-deck games players may double down on any two cards and double down after splitting. Players may also re-split pairs up to three times (four hands) including aces, which is an extremely player-friendly rule.

If you're a blackjack player, there's nothing worse than being dealt a pair of aces and not being permitted to split them a third time when you are dealt another ace. That third ace gives you a two-card total of 12 on the first hand, a loser a majority of the time.

Rhythm City's double-deck game is a little different story, as it is at most casinos. Players are not allowed to double down after splitting and they are not allowed to re-split aces. So even though the double-deck game can be more advantageous for skilled players who keep track of cards, there is a hefty price to play rule-wise for the privilege.

There is one very player-hostile aspect of play that is a house rule at both Rhythm City and Isle of Capri: The dealers at both houses hit soft-17. Whenever you give the dealer an opportunity to improve on a hand that players can beat in many instances, you are adding to the house advantage.

There are no automatic or continuous shuffling machines used at Rhythm City blackjack, which is an advantage for the players. Machines speed up the tempo of play, which means players subject their bankrolls to the built in house advantage for longer periods of time. At hand shuffle games, players also have an opportunity to take a break and make an account of their chips totals.

There are promotional perks offered to players at the Rhythm City blackjack tables, including bonus entries for drawings.

Overall, the state of blackjack at the Rhythm City Casino Davenport and the Isle of Capri Bettendorf is solid. With few exceptions, the games are player friendly and as good as you'll find in any gaming jurisdiction in the country except Las Vegas.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp